Preparing for the New-Patient Phone Call

Follow these tips to create a patient information slip and customize Dentrix to record the information you gather.

Updated 6/30/20

You know the old saying: “You never have a second chance to make a first impression”? Well that old saying still means a lot today. How your front office team handles the very first phone call from a new patient not only establishes the patient’s perception of how his or her visit will go, it also impacts the likelihood that they will refer their friends and family.

Scripting your Success

Here’s a common scenario that plays out in every dental office:

“Thank you for calling Smiles by Johnson, this is Dayna, how may I help you?”

“Hi, my name is Susie. I want to schedule an exam and cleaning appointment.”

“Great! How long has it been since you have been in, Susie?”

“This is my first visit–I’m a new patient.”

Now what do you do? Does your office have a scripted phone slip you use? If you have a well-rehearsed format for handling the new patient phone call, the patient will feel heard and taken care of. I suggest using a form that helps the team member navigate through all the questions that are necessary to ensure the patient has an amazing first appointment and the office collects enough information so the clinical team can treat the patient effectively. Check out the sample telephone information slip below that was created by Pride Institute.

Or you may want to create and use a custom form that meets the particular needs of your office. It should be kept simple but capture all the important information you need to gather during the initial new patient phone call.

Integrating The Telephone Slip With Dentrix

Now that you have collected this information, where do you put it? If your office is still using paper charts, you might put it in an accordion file until the patient comes in for the appointment and then file it with the paper chart. But what if your office is paperless? I know I don’t want to keep unnecessary paper. Much of the information you gather can be entered in the Enter New Patient Information dialog box and in the Reason and Notes fields in the Appointment Information dialog box. But I have an additional suggestion for you–use the check boxes at the bottom of the Appointment Information dialog box.

Did you know that they are customizable? You can take some of the checkbox information that you gather from the initial telephone call and use this area to record this information for yourself and other team members.

Up to 12 checklist items can be listed at the bottom of this dialog box. Keep in mind, however, that if you change these definitions, they will change for all patients, including existing patients. If your practice has already been using these check boxes to record other information, you may not want to change the definitions now. If you haven’t been using them, now may be a good time to customize them the way you want and begin using them to record some of the standard appointment information you gather on your patient information slip.

To customize these 12 items, in the Office Manager, from the Maintenance menu, point to Practice Setup, and then click Definitions to display the Practice Definitions dialog box. From the Definition Type list, select Appointment Check List. The current list of checklist items is displayed.

Select the items you want to change, type a new Definition Text (up to 20 characters), and click Change. After you’ve finished customizing the definition text, click Close.

Now when new patients call your office, you’ll be ready with a telephone information slip and a place in Dentrix to store the information you gather.

Learn More

Read “Creating an Exceptional New Patient Experience” for more ideas.

To learn more about customizing the scheduling options in the Appointment Information dialog box, see the Customizing Practice Definitions topic in the Dentrix Help.

For more tips designed for Dentrix Office Managers, subscribe to the Dentrix Office Manager blog at

By Dayna Johnson, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Dayna Johnson, Founder and Principal Consultant of Rae Dental Management, helps dental offices improve patient care, increase collections and reduce staff headaches by implementing efficient management systems. With 18 years experience in the business and technical side of dental offices, Dayna’s passion for efficient systems is grounded in both personal understanding and professional expertise. Dayna can be reached at or visit her website at

Originally published in Dentrix Magazine, Winter 2011